California's Great America set to close in 11 years, long goodbye planned after land sold

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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California's Great America's operator Cedar Fair announced Monday that it sold the land in Santa Clara, with plan to keep it open "up to 11 years."

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Goodbye California's Great America... at least, eventually.

Park operator Cedar Fair announced on Monday, it sold the land in Santa Clara.

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The development came as a shock to those who have long-loved the nearly 50-year-old South Bay staple.

"I was here every summer and my kids grew up here," Milpitas resident, Rosie Walker said as she waited to pick up her daughter and friends from the theme park. "It's a tradition, getting a season pass for your birthday, right? So you can spend your summers at Great America. So, it's gonna be sad."

Cedar Fair plans to keep the amusement park open for "up to 11 years," under a lease agreement with purchaser Prologis.

The land next to Levi's Stadium was sold to the Bay Area-based logistics real estate company for $310 million.

In a press release, Cedar Fair announced it "Intends to use proceeds from the land sale transaction to accelerate progress on its strategic priorities of reducing debt to achieve its $2 billion target."

However, visitors on Monday told ABC7 News, it's hard to put a price on missed experiences.

"It's so sad because like, when I'm an adult, I still would want to go here and have fun," Lauren Gorospe said. "And like, relive those memories."

Memories that, for Gorospe and others, were made only a short distance from home.

Great America guests explained similar amusement parks in the East Bay and elsewhere demand long drives, leaving the younger generation with few options.

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"It's kinda long, it's kinda far," visitor Jaquelyn Gutierrez said. "So like, I'd rather come here and you know, enjoy my time with my friends."

"Most of the time, we don't really have to go on a lot of rides because there's other stuff to do," Dominique Walker added.

With an expiration date on entertainment, only a decade of drops left, and a few more years of funnel cakes, Great America fans wonder what this means for opportunity.

"A lot of people, this is their first job," Rosie Walker shared. "I grew up here, so I know I used to come here all the time. The economic impact it'll have on the community... I think is gonna be huge."

ABC7 News reached out to Great America, Santa Clara city leaders and county representatives about future impacts.

The City of Santa Clara shared the following statement:

"City does not know of any plans on how the California's Great America property will be used in the future by the new property owner, so we cannot comment on the economic impacts or benefits. However, like all our businesses, large or small, we value and appreciate what California's Great America has brought to our community since establishing in the City of Santa Clara in 1976. They have impacted millions and millions of visitors throughout the world and locally. The City of Santa Clara has enjoyed the partnership with California Great America."

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"On the surface, it appears Great America will change in the short term," Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor said. "My hope and goal is to keep Great America there as long as possible in the long term."

Cedar Park told ABC7 News, "Although we no longer own the land at the park, our guests and associates should expect no immediate changes at Great America from this transaction. Prior to acquiring the land in 2019, we had previously leased the land from the City of Santa Clara for more than 40 years, so this lease structure is nothing new to us."

The company explained, "Going forward, we plan to roll out a full lineup of immersive entertainment, seasonal festivals, and culinary events as planned and for years to come, just as we always have."

However, many are left wondering if another operating company might be the ticket to keeping it open.

ABC7 News reached out to Prologis. The company said it doesn't currently have any specific plans for future use. Looking beyond the lease expiration, the company expect to work with local leaders and the community on long-term plans.

In a statement, the company said in part:

"Prologis is excited to make this investment in Santa Clara. As an experienced real estate company headquartered in the Bay Area, we know the community and local businesses well."

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